2021 might be remembered as the end of a great era in motorsports, as another legend will be bowing out at the end of this year’s racing season. Just a month after Valentino Rossi announced his retirement from MotoGP, 2007 Formula One Champion Kimi Raikkonen says goodbye to Formula One, and will be finishing his 18th and final season while behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo.
Prior to his Formula One debut in 2001, “The Iceman” only had 23 junior formula races to his credit. But now, he’s ending his career as the most experienced driver in F1 history, with 341 Grand Prix starts and counting. He’s converted 21 of those into race wins, together with 103 podium finishes, 18 pole positions, and 46 fastest laps. Quite simply, there were a lot of great moments in Kimi Raikkonen’s long career, and we’re rounding them up with 10 of The Iceman’s moments of brilliance.
First Win: Malaysia 2003
Kimi started his F1 career with Sauber, but it was not long after McLaren’s Ron Dennis recognized the young Finn’s natural talent, and signed him for the 2002 season, replacing another fellow flying Finn, two-time world champion Mika Häkkinen.
After just one season with the Woking team, Kimi Raikkonen earned his maiden Grand Prix victory in the second race of the 2003 season, the Malaysian Grand Prix. Later on, The Iceman came within two points of the 2003 title despite running a one-year-old McLaren.
Monaco Victory, 2005
In 2005, McLaren had the fastest car on the grid with the MP4-20. However, it was notorious for being fragile, and oftentimes, drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya retired from races due to the car’s unreliability.
In the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix, Raikkonen showed that he and the MP4-20 is a deadly combination when the car is right, qualifying in pole position half a second quicker than Renault’s Fernando Alonso and had a lights-to-flag victory. At some points in the race, The Iceman was even lapping three seconds faster than anyone on the famed street circuit, leaving no doubt to Kimi’s natural talent behind the wheel.
From 17th To 1st, Suzuka 2005
Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso dueled for the 2005 title, where, despite having an equal number of wins, Kimi came up short as the Finn was let down by his McLaren’s unreliability against the superior consistency of the Spaniard and his Renault R25.
At the penultimate round in Suzuka, Raikkonen drove the race of his life, climbing from 17th on the grid to passing the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella on the final lap to win the race, with a daring overtaking move around the outside of Suzuka’s famous turn one.
First Race For Ferrari: Australia 2007
For the 2007 season, Kimi Raikkonen moved to Scuderia Ferrari, replacing the retiring seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. In what was to be a perfect combination of Ferrari’s fiery passion and the Finn’s icy demeanor, Raikkonen started the season in sensational fashion by taking victory in the Australian Grand Prix.
Kimi started on pole and never looked back, finishing the race ahead of 2006 champion Fernando Alonso and the then-rookie McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, kickstarting his partnership with the Italian squad in the best way possible.
Title-Clinching Win: Brazil 2007
Kimi’s mixed results at the 2007 season meant he was the underdog in a three-way battle for the title at the final race in Brazil, trailing Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the championship by 7 and 3 points respectively.
Starting third on the grid behind teammate Massa and title rival Hamilton, Raikkonen made a great start and immediately got ahead of the McLaren at turn one. Later on, Kimi overcut his teammate in the pit stops and took the lead of the race, and he would stay there until the checkered flag. After Alonso finished 3rd and Hamilton 7th, Raikkonen won the 2007 title by one point and sealed his place as a Formula One legend.
King Of Spa, 2009
2009’s F1 rule changes affected Ferrari’s front-running pace, as the Italian squad lagged in terms of car development after putting their resources on their duel with McLaren for the 2008 title. This meant that both teams were off the pace in 2009, with Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing emerging as the season’s title contenders.
Kimi still showed his incredible talent despite having an uncompetitive car, as he took advantage of a safety car period to pass Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella for the lead of the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. He used the Ferrari F60’s advantage of having the KERS system to take his only victory of the 2009 season. Furthermore, it was Raikkonen’s fourth win in the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, earning him the nickname “The King of Spa”.
First Lotus Win: Abu Dhabi 2012
Raikkonen took a break from Formula One racing in 2010 and 2011, and he was out to prove that he had lost none of his speed and motivation when he went away from the sport when he joined Lotus for 2012.
Five podium finishes and 17 races later, Kimi was back to his winning ways after taking victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. This race is remembered for Kimi’s radio comments during the race saying “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”.
Record-Breaking Monza Pole, 2018
Kimi rejoined Ferrari in 2014, and in what would be his final season with the Italian outfit, The Iceman showed at 39 years old that he was still one of the fastest drivers in the sport, setting the then-fastest ever lap in F1 history after lapping the Monza circuit at an average speed of 163.786 mph, beating the 14-year-old record set by Juan Pablo Montoya.
Raikkonen would, later on, score his 100th podium finish and became only the fifth driver in F1 history to do so, as he finished 2nd after coming up short from a race-long duel with Lewis Hamilton.
Final Win: USA 2018
2018 was a resurgent year for Raikkonen, as he placed no lower than 6th in the races he finished and took nine podiums going into the United States Grand Prix.
After qualifying 2nd, Kimi took advantage of his softer tires to jump Lewis Hamilton at the start and never looked back to take his 21st and likely final F1 victory. At the same time, Raikkonen broke the record for the longest gap between race wins (113 races) and became the most successful Finnish driver in F1 history, surpassing Mika Häkkinen’s record of 20 Grand Prix victories.
Mega Start: Portimao 2020
Kimi Raikkonen joined Alfa Romeo Sauber in 2019, reuniting with the team that gave him his first chance in Formula One. While the Hinwil-based team did not have the car to consistently fight in the midfield, the Finn once again demonstrated his impeccable racecraft and experience to score 43 points in the 2019 season, which became the highest points total for a Sauber driver since 2013.
For the 2020 season, though, Alfa Romeo was severely affected by the Ferrari engine’s lack of power and stumbled further down the field. But in the Portuguese Grand Prix, Kimi showed his amazing feel for the car after producing the most epic first lap in F1 history, overtaking 10 cars on the opening lap in a cold and damp Portimao circuit, and earning the FIA Action of the Year award. Where all the other drivers struggled with grip, The Iceman danced around and truly showed that he is a Formula One legend.
Ken Block became a YouTube sensation and automotive superstar after posting his gymkhana videos online.
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